NAPLES — Preview capsules on area girls basketball teams:
Coach: Mike Hamburg (12th year)
Last year: 22-7 (district champs lost in regional semifinals)
Key returners: Elizah Pagkanlungan, Kacie Frost, Katie Denti
Outlook: This should be an interesting year if our three kids come back from injuries well we should have a lot of depth at the guard position. We have to play as a team because even though we have eight kids back, only one has played in more than 30 varsity games. Gulf Coast is going to be very tough this year. We hope that the girls are up to the task.
Coach: Mitch Woods (9th year)
Last year: 22-7 (lost in state semifinals)
Key returners: F Grayson Pinholster, sr.; G Haley Nadeau, jr.; G Megan Myers, jr.; F Madi Hampton, jr.; G Margaurite Bleh, soph.; F Stephanie Paul, fr.
Outlook: The Seahawks have six returning players from last year’s Final Four team, including 2 starters — Grayson Pinholster and Haley Nadeau. Freshman Stephanie Paul, and sophomores Megan Myers and Madi Hampton also gained valuable experience that we will rely upon this year. Community School girls basketball has set a goal for a fifth consecutive trip to the Final Four and to win our third state title.
Coach: Tom Kane (5th year)
Last year: 17-13 (lost in regional final)
Key returners: Chanell Campbell, sr.; Sidnie Sharpe, sr.; Andie Wagner, jr.; Becca Recount, jr.
Outlook: Sid has the 3-point record for the school and she’s been a four-year varsity player. Chanell has been a four-year starter at point guard. Wagner and Recount started probably half of the games last year, so we’re hoping for some big things out of those two this year. It’s a rebuilding year for us, for sure. We’ve got a bunch of good young talent, freshmen and sophomores that have come into the program. The most exciting thing is the amount of kids we have. We haven’t had a JV team the last two years.
FIRST BAPTIST ACADEMY
Coach: Jennifer Lines (5th year)
Last year: 23-6 (regional finalist)
Key returners: Alli Emerson, sr.; Taylor Cox, sr.; Emily Lines, soph.
Outlook: FBA will be counting on strong senior leadership to improve on last year’s finish in the regional final. Emerson and Cox, who have been starters for the Lions since the eighth grade, will be joined by fellow seniors Naomi Reed and Savannah Foreman. Sophomore Emily Lines, the 2011 NDN Player of the Year, returns as the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, while Rachel Mosbach, also a sophomore, will provide defensive intensity and solid play at either guard position. The Lions have won three straight district titles.
Coach: Karen Brotherton (1st year)
Last year: 11-17
Key players: Rebecca Demosthenes, jr; Tiarra Belle, jr; Chanicka Boileau, jr.
Outlook: Brotherton replaces Sue Canterbury this year, but is no rookie to girls basketball in Southwest Florida. The Titans have eight returning varsity players with no seniors. “We continue to get better every time we step on the floor” Brotherton said. “We are believing in great things this year.”
Coach: Mark Woodruff (4th year)
Last year: 16-9
Key returners: Seven seniors with varsity experience
Outlook: Gulf Coast is an experienced team returning 11 varsity players, including four starters. The Sharks are coming into this season with a bad taste in their mouths after missing the regional playoffs for the first time in Coach Woodruff’s tenure. To that end the Sharks have upgraded their schedule in which they will play up to 16 games against teams that made last year’s regional playoffs. “Our goal is to return to winning games in the playoffs. I think with our challenging schedule, we will be mentally and physically ready to meet our goals,” Woodruff said.
Coach: John Thomas (15th year)
Last year: 3-15
Key returners: G Destiny Christopher, soph.; G Star Gadsden, jr.; F Jessalyn Walker, jr.
Outlook: The Indians return six players with varsity experience. “Our goals for the season are to run, make shots, play tough defense, and improve our win total from last season,” Thomas said.
Coach: Kirsti Jones (3rd year)
Last year: 13-11
Key returners: Jennette Pierre, Madeline Rammelt
Outlook: The Trojans had an average year, finishing shy of the district championship game last year because of a three-way tie for second place in districts. The Trojans graduated captains and leaders Taylor Bell and Katie Hogan. Lely has more experienced players returning this upcoming season who have been with Jones for last three years, making it four years this year. Jones predicts Jenny and Maddie will lead her team to district finals in the playoffs, a task the girls have come short of the last couple of seasons. She is excited about the upcoming season.
MARCO ISLAND ACADEMY
Coach: Amber Prange (2nd year)
Key returners: Mallory Denison, Victoria Vale, Alyssa Stolinas.
Outlook: Once again the team will be very young, very inexperienced. Prange is looking to returning players to provide leadership and encouragement. Her goal is to see growth and improvement every time the girls hit the floor. She wants to have her team maintain a positive attitude, demonstrate good sportsmanship, bond as a team, and exercise determination, strength, and strong work ethic.
Coach: Daniella Rosset (1st year)
Last year: 15-11
Key players: G Samantha Hugan, sr.; F Alexandra Vukobratovich, jr.; F Sydney Marsman, jr.; G Kelly Kramer, fr.
Outlook: Rosset, a graduate of NHS, replaces Dave Walker, who retired after 33 years with Eagles. The Golden Eagles have just four returning varsity players, and several new faces joining the program. Naples is young with just two seniors and is looking to have several key players step up and contribute in significant ways. “Our focus is competing with excellence,” Rosset said, “and staying committed to the process.”
Coach: Tiff Merchant (8th year)
Last year: 7-16
Key returners: G Victoria Diaz, soph; F Desiree Delaney, soph; G Wyncia Joseph, sr.; F Tatiana Luna, sr.; C Regan McCreight, sr.; PG Tatiana Ortega, jr; G Sage Taylor, sr.
Outlook: The Bears have seven returning varsity players, including three starters: Ortega, Diaz, and Delaney. Palmetto is working hard and looking to improve on last season’s record. “It’s a tough district and we’re practicing hard to get better every day,” Merchant said.
ST. JOHN NEUMANN
Coach: Shannon McFee (9th year)
Last year: 19-10 (lost in regional quarterfinal)
Key returners: Maggie Bender, sr.; Flannery Wickham, sr.; Mary Stucko, jr.; Nikki Pastor, jr.; Samantha Shrader, sr.; Callie McFee, sr.; Hope Owen, sr.; Bryce Osceola, sr.; Kaitlyn Haley, soph.
Outlook: The Celtics return nine players from last year’s team that lost in the regional quarterfinals at the buzzer. With a midseason trip to Staten Island, N.Y., as well as hosting the Celtic Thanksgiving Shootout, the Celtics remain committed to enjoying the journey and making memories. Along the way, the Celtics should prove competitive as well in the large 3A-11 district.
Coach: Ryan Jobe (3rd year)
Last year: 8-18
Key returners: Cate Stiffler, soph.; Meghan Marsala, jr.; Victoria Meyer, jr.
Outlook: “I am excited to coach a guard heavy team,” Jobe said. “The girls have shown they’re committed to be a tough-nosed, defensive-focused team that will make you work for every bucket.”
SOUTH FORT MYERS
Coach: Mark Morehead (2nd year; 38th year overall)
Last year: 9-14
Key returners: Lindsey Purvis, Rachel Fisher, and Juanita Hicks
Outlook: The Wolfpack return one starter in post player Lindsey Purvis. Rachel Fisher and Juanita Hicks will step in for departed starters along with some young players to help the Wolfpack have a competitive season.